The maxim of an order. The motto is stipulated in the statutes of the order, and it is often inscribed on the order's badges and medallions. By far, the majority of mottoes is a summary of the qualities and service recognized by the order, such as, "Valor, Loyalty, and Merit." In a few instances, the abbreviation of the motto is used as the inscription on the order's badges and medallions.

Several of these, namely I.H.S. and I.H.S.V. are Christian symbols. I.H.S. is a monogram for Christ and is derived from the first three letters of Ihsus, the name of Jesus in Greek. These letters are also the abbreviation for the Latin phrase Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus Savior of Man). I.H.S.V. is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase In Hoc Signo Vinces (In this sign you will conquer). The source of the phrase is the miraculous events the Roman Emperor Constantine claimed to have experienced which led to the defeat of his rival, Maxentius, at the battle of the Milvian Bridge in 312 A.D. and the conversion of Constantine to Christianity. According to Constantine's own doubtful account, he prayed to the "Supreme God" for help in defeating Maxentius who allegedly was a master of the magical arts. The response to his prayers was the sign of the cross, presumably the Chi-Rho emblem, above the noonday sun followed by the words In Hoc Signo Vinces. Now invigorated, Constantine marched on Rome to confront Maxentius; however, one more miracle would take place. On the eve of the battle, Christ appeared in a dream and commanded Constantine to use the sign as a safeguard in all engagements with his enemies. Constantine obeyed by adopting the Labarum, the Imperial battle standard with a finial consisting of the Chi-Rho emblem. Subsequently, Maxentius was induced to fight outside of the safety of the city walls and was vanquished.

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